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Cream of the Crop: 2nd Round (1999-2009)

A few days ago we took a look at some of the players that I thought should be noted as the number one players out of every first round, years 1999 through 2009. Today, I plan on providing you with the best talent to come out of the second round through those same years.

As people voted, with 1,034 voted coming in, this is the way the numbers shook out starting with the most and ending with the least - Patrick Willis (437 Votes), LaDanian Tomlinson (274 Votes), Troy Polamalu (105 Votes), Larry Fitzgerald (73 Votes), Donovan McNabb (36 Votes), Brian Urlacher (35 Votes), Chris Johnson (34 Votes), DeMarcus Ware (18 Votes), Julius Peppers (11 Votes), Vernon Davis (7 Votes), and last but not least Brian Cushing (4 Votes).

Obviously you're never going to have a unanimous vote in this type of poll which goes to show that people are going to have different thoughts on who the best players are. This is also all I am doing here; providing you with who I think is the best of the best of each round in the past decade.

Follow me after the break to fins out who made the list for round two.

1999 DRAFT (2nd Round)

Dre' Bly (41st pick overall, Rams) North Carolina

Dre' Bly has had lived up to his second round selection and maybe even exceded expectations. Even though he may be slowing down a bit from when he was a rookie, he seems to still manage to contribute relatively well for whoever he has ended up with. Dre' has just been Dre' (as he was quoted saying in an interview this past season) as he high stepped at mid field only to have the ball stripped from behind by Atlanta's Wide Receiver Roddy White. Whether you like him or dislike him, Bly has had his fair share of great moments too.

As a rookie in St. Louis, Bly played in Superbowl XXXIV and helped the Rams win one of the most exciting Superbowls in the history of the NFL. It wasn't but two years later that Bly would play in another Superbowl with the Rams against the New England Patriots; Superbowl XXXVI. However, the second Superbowl for Bly and the Rams did not have the same results as the first; they would fall short by three points losing the game 17-20.

In 2003, Bly would sign as a free agent with the Detroit Lions and play there for four year until he was traded to the Denver Broncos for Running Back Tatum Bell. He played two years in Denver and was relatively successful while there. Ultimately he would be realesed by Denver and picked up by San Francisco on a 1-year deal. It is a mystery as to whether or not the Niners will decide to pick Bly up again, or if he will roam to another city on another 1 or 2-year deal.

He currently has 506 Career Tackles, 5 Career Sacks, 43 Career Interceptions, 652 Return Yards, 7 Total Defensive Touchdowns, 20 Forced Fumbles and 148 Passes Deflected. Bly may have one or two more decent years to contribute to that already very good stat line.

2000 DRAFT (2nd Round)

Marvel Smith (38th pick overall, Steelers) Arizona State

Smith was one of the best offensive tackles in the league up until he injured his back in the 2007 Season. He went to two Superbowls but only played in the first of the two; Superbowl XL against the Seahawks which they won by a score of 21-10. The other was Superbowl XLIII, the one he did not play in, against the Arizona Cardinals. In the offseason, The Steelers was an unrestricted free agent that the San Francisco 49ers decided to take a chance on. On March 27th, 2009, Marvel Smith signed a contract worth $10.5 million. On August 29th of that same year, before the season even started, Smith would announce his retirement from the NFL.

He was selected to go to the Pro Bowl in 2005 after Superbowl XL.

2001 DRAFT (2nd Round)

Drew Brees (32nd pick overall, Chargers) Perdue

Drew Brees began his career with the San Diego Chargers. Since there were only 31 selections in the first round of this draft, Brees found himself being selected at 32 in the second, which in most drafts would have been considered a first round pick. Many people thought that Brees did not, or would not have the size to be successful in the NFL. For the first couple of years, the former Boilermakers gunslinger had roller coaster seasons in his time playing for San Diego.

In 2005, after a fairly significant injury to his shoulder while trying to recover a fumble that he lost in a game against Denver, Brees would require surgery in '06 to repair his rotator cuff. After not being sure about a less than generous offer to extend their "franchise quarterback", Brees and his agent explored options in New Orleans and Miami. Brees would ultimately end up a Saint for 2006.

A new team and a new look gave Brees a new opportunity in which he has been running with ever since. Every year that he has played in New Orleans, with the exception of one, Brees has thrown for 4000+ yards in each... the one he did not throw for 4000+ was the year he threw for 5000+ yards. This past season, Brees led his team to South Florida in Superbowl XLIV where they would face the Colts. They won the game 31-17 and Brees ended up being the Superbowl MVP. Even though that was one of his more significant accomplishments, Brees has done much, much more in his career.

Drew Brees is a 4x Pro Bowler, 3x All-Pro, 3x Offensive Player of the Year, was the Comeback Player of the Year in 2004 and received the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2006.

Notable Mention: Chad Ochocinco (36th pick overall, Bengals), Matt Light (48th pick overall, Patriots) Perdue

2002 DRAFT (2nd Round)

Clinton Portis (51st pick overall, Broncos) Miami

Clinton Portis is a guy who could have been something spectacular... except that he has had bad luck with injuries. In the time that Portis has been healthy, he's been very effective and had 1000+ yard seasons in multiple years. Portis will need less than 400 yards next season to break in to the 10,000 Yard Career Rushing Club. Only 24 other players in the history of the NFL have accomplished this feat.

Portis played his first two years in Denver and had 1000+ yards in each of those years, but when other running backs stepped up and produced, the running back was quickly traded to the Washington Redskins for All-Pro Cornerback Champ Bailey.

Portis has been to two Pro Bowls (in 2003 with the Broncos and 2008 with the Redskins) but never reached the big game with either of the two clubs. He will be heading in to his 9th Season but more than likely will share time with other running backs. It will be intersting to see where Portis ends up in career stats when he finally decides to hang it up.

Notable Mention: LeCharles Bentley (44th overall pick, Saints) Ohio State

2003 DRAFT (2nd Round)

Anquan Boldin (54th pick overall, Cardinals) Florida State

Anquan Boldin could have very well been a first round selection, however his slow 40-time (4.71) at the NFL Scouting Combine sent him slipping down the draft boards. As a rookie, he had 101 Catches though and quickly silenced anyone who had previously been a critic of his "slow speed". Boldin for his first two or three years as a pro with the Cardinals, was considered as their number one receiver. But the moment that Arizona selected Larry Fitzgerald, Boldin would eventually take a passsenger seat next to him and be considered the number two guy. And although he was considered the "number two", Boldin was still putting up number one type numbers.

Boldin currently holds the title of the Cardinals franchise leading reciever, but more than likely Larry Fitzgerald will pass up both Boldin and Larry Centers who currently hold the spots above him this coming season.

He's been to 3 Pro Bowls and in 2003 was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He was recently traded to the Baltimore Ravens and will enter his 8th Season in the NFL.

Notable Mention: Osi Uminyiora (56th pick overall, Giants) Troy State

2004 DRAFT (2nd Round)

Bob Sanders (44th pick overall, Colts) Iowa

Initially Sanders was drafted to play a back up role, and his rookie year that is basically what he did until he suffered a leg and knee injury which would shorten the length of his season.

Sanders came back the following season to play in 14 games and had earned the nickname "Hulk" for his powerful and explosive hits that he would lay on the opposition. The 2007-'08 Season was the only other Season that Sanders would play a majority of the games in. He has battled with injuries throughout most of his career, but much like Portis, has been one of the best at his respective position when healthy.

The Colts Safety has been on two Superbowl Teams but only played in one of them. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2007 and was also named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. Heading in to his 7th Season, Sanders has only played in 47 Proffesional football games. The Colts would love to see him stay healthy for a full season next year I am sure. We'll see what happens.

Notable Mention: Chris Snee (34th pick overall, Giants) Boston College

2005 DRAFT (2nd Round)

Lofa Tatupu (45th pick overall, Seahawks) USC

Son of the late former New Engalnd Patriots Fullback Mosi Tatupu, it's clear that Lofa was born to play football. Since being drafted in 2005, Lofa has been the defensive leader for the Seahawks and one of the most vocal warriors to play for the franchise thus far. It's still early in his career, but Tatupu could quite conceivably end up being one of the all-time greats for the Seahawks. His first and only Pro Bowl appearance was his rookie year in '05.

In his first three years, Tatupu recorded 100+ tackles in each of those seasons. The year after, he had an off year and this past season missed time due to injury. His most notbale game came in his rookie season when he accrued 4 Sacks, and an Interception for a Touchdown against Philadelphia in a Monday Night Game in 2007.

Tatupu still has a ways to go to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the great linebackers of all-time but if he stays healthy and continues the sames success he had in those first three years, he has all the makings of what it takes to achieve that.

2006 DRAFT (2nd Round)

Maurice Jones-Drew (60th pick overall, Jaguars) UCLA

The Bay Area product MJD so far has had an exceptional career. He was drafted by the Jaguars to help take some of the load off of an aging and injury prone Fred Taylor. With the departure of Taylor this past offseason, MJD (a.k.a. Pocket Hercules) was able to have his first career 1000+ yard season rushing total. 2009 was also the first year that Jones-Drew made it to the Pro Bowl. He has plenty of youth and a long career ahead of himself if he can stay healthy.

His rookie season, Jones-Drew broke the Jaguars single season record for all-purpose yards with 2,250. He still has a lot of road in front of him and he has the skill-set to be great.

Notable Mention: Marcus McNeil (50th pick overall, Chargers) Auburn, DeMeco Ryans (33rd pick overall, Texans) Alabama

2007 DRAFT (2nd Round)

LaMarr Woodley (46th pick overall, Steelers) Michigan

Woodley was one of the pivotal players and made his most significant mark in Superbowl XLIII against Arizona when he forced the game-winning fumble against Kurt Warner. The final play was on offense for the Steelers that sealed it, but it was their defense that gave them every opportunity in that game to win at the end.

It's very early in his career, but Woodley in the last two years has played at such a high level, that it's safe to assume that he could end up being the defensive leader on that team eventually. His rookie year wasn't great but it wasn't bad either. It was a decent outing for a rookie. The last two years however he has had 25 Sacks which is exceptional.

He earned his first Pro Bowl selection last year and was named to the 2009 All-Pro Team.

Notable Mention: Sidney Rice (44th pick overall, Vikings) South Carolina, Steve Smith (51st pick overall, Giants) USC

2008 DRAFT (2nd Round)

Desean Jackson (49th overall pick, Eagles) California

Jackson was passed over because of his small frame and size as far as a first round selection was concerened. Coming in to the draft he was considered by most to be a top 5 player at his position though. Jackson has played with a chip on his shoulder against those teams that passed him over. Several people though that he would end up playing for the 49ers considering that he was a California native and played his college football in the Bay Area, but it ended up not being the case.

Philadelphia took a chance on Jackson after 48 names had flashed across the bottom of the screen and that chance has paid off for them ever since.

His rookie season, Jackson proved to be dynamic on both special teams and gave Quarterback Donovan McNabb a deep threat target. He continued his success in year two and it was enough for Jackson to be named to the Pro Bowl Team for the '09-'10 Season.

Notable Mention: Ray Rice (55th pick overall, Ravens) Rutgers

2009 DRAFT (2nd Round)

Jarius Byrd (42nd pick overall, Bills) Oregon

Byrd was one of the players being considered for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He had 9 Interceptions before being placed on injured reserve before the season was over. He played in 11 Games as a starter. Had he not been injured, the honor may have very well been his.

Byrd has much to prove next year if he doesn't want to be considered a one-hit wonder. However, I have a hunch that Byrd is going to be the bright spot for that Bills defenses for years to come. He has a natural instinct to get to the ball and pluck it out of the air. A lot of people are saying that this years draft has a player similar in Earl Thomas and that he has the potential to be similar to a guy like Byrd.

Byrd will be back next season and will more than likely be named the starter for the season opener.

Notable Mention: Louis Delmas (33rd pick overall, Lions) Western Michigan